In case it’s of interest, the article “Robert’s Rules of Order: An Interview” appears in the most recent NC State Bar Journal (Spring 2023). The article, by Executive Director Alice Neece Mine, covers what lawyers should know about meeting procedure, why Robert’s is still relevant today, changes in the new Robert’s, virtual and hybrid meeting procedures, common mistakes about meeting procedure, tips for keeping meetings short and productive, and more. As a reminder, both the NC Planned Community Act and NC Condominium Act require that unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, association and board meetings must “be conducted in accordance … Continue reading
Category Archives: HOA & Condo Associations
Records Retention & Records Retention Policies
Recently, a question came up on a national nonprofit list serve about how long various documents should be kept by an association, such as board meeting materials. Here was my response. “Your question has both legal and political aspects. Since I don’t practice law in your state, I can’t say what specific language or practice should be used for record retention, but here are some general considerations: While a bit dated (which means I should update it!), here’s an article I wrote on “Association Documents: Keep or Toss?” that appeared in a national magazine some time ago but is mostly … Continue reading
Homeowners Association Not Responsible for Owner’s Out of Pocket Expenses
In a recent decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the Court held that a condominium association was not responsible for out of pocket expenses incurred by an owner when she was forced out of her unit while repairs were made. In Gehrke v. Gates at Quail Hollow Homeowners’ Ass’n, an owner sued her condominium association for all the costs she incurred while she was forced out of her unit for repairs. To read the full case, click here. Marguerite Gehrke was a unit owner in The Gates at Quail Hollow Homeowners’ Association, Ltd. (the “Association”), in Charlotte, North … Continue reading
Pickleball Court Conversion Considerations to Avoid Placing Your Association in a Pickle
Homeowners associations are tasked with managing and overseeing the common areas of a neighborhood, which many times include recreational facilities such as tennis courts. In recent years, pickleball, a game that is a mixture of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, has grown in popularity, and residential developers are now regularly including pickleball courts as an amenity in newer neighborhoods. Some more established communities are also engaging with the trend, and are considering converting their existing tennis courts into pickleball courts. This decision to accommodate pickleball as a neighborhood amenity can be surprisingly controversial, as it can reduce the number of … Continue reading
Podcast on NC HOAs & Condos
If you like podcasts, NC attorney Justin Ckezepis does a program on real estate issues and hot topics called “Today’s Real Talk.” Here’s the latest program that went live this week–a discussion with me about community associations, the authority of HOAs and condos, and various issues they face, including document amendments, rental restrictions, lot violations, collection of assessments, virtual meetings/electronic voting, and more. While the segment is focused on the Carolinas, some aspects are universal. Who Can Tell You What You Can & Can’t on Your Property? Understanding HOAs
What is the Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose for NC / SC HOAs?
Homeowners associations and condominiums frequently hire contractors to perform work within their communities. Although some work is obviously poor, it is not always apparent that a contractor’s work was defective. Where defective work is not discovered until some time later, most boards of directors want to know whether the time has passed for the association to bring suit against the contractor. When we talk about time limitations to bring suit, there are two types of statutes involved. The first is called the statute of limitations—this is the one most people are familiar with. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations is the time … Continue reading
The Purpose of Assessments: What Is an Appropriate Use of Association Funds?
We are often asked what an association can or cannot spend their money on. In fact, this blog was inspired by a request from one of our regular readers. Associations are tasked with performing various community functions based on the requirements of their particular governing documents and state statute. You will often hear us say that assessments are the “lifeblood of an association.” That is because without them the association cannot do its job. There are some obvious uses for community funds, such as paying for the maintenance of the common area, improving association property, hiring professionals such as managers, attorneys, and … Continue reading
Are Pickup Trucks “Commercial Vehicles” and Can HOAs Ban Them? Florida Pickup Man Says “No.”
In North Carolina, many Associations have covenants that prohibit “commercial vehicles” or “trucks.” In North Carolina, the top two best-selling vehicles and three of the top five vehicles in the state are pickup trucks. With the volume of pickups on North Carolina roads, and the number of truck-related covenants in place, the intersection is a common one to encounter, and the HOA is the traffic cop that is stationed at that intersection. Recently in Florida, this intersection was the subject of a dispute between an HOA and a homeowner. The homeowner purchased a 2022 Rivian R1T, which recently was named MotorTrend’s Truck of … Continue reading
What Can Members Vote on at an HOA or Condo Membership Meeting?
A question came up during a recent online discussion about “what members can do at an HOA or condo membership meeting?” Specifically, the questioner wondered if a member could seek recognition and unexpectedly make a motion to “make the association do most anything.” It’s a good question, and one we community association lawyers spend time analyzing. Hate to say, “It depends,” but facts matters. This is not a question that can be answered in a vacuum without specifics. State statutes and governing documents (usually the bylaws or articles of incorporation) vary as to what authority the membership has versus the … Continue reading
Board of Directors vs. Officers: How to Tell the Difference
What is the difference between the Board of Directors and corporate Officers? In the community association world there can be some confusion regarding these distinct corporate roles because they can often be the same individuals. However, if we take a step back we can see that they are actually very distinct roles. Here is some guidance as to North Carolina distinctions. Duties: Board members are tasked with guiding the direction of the corporation. They set the broader vision for the corporation. For example, the Board would be responsible for adopting corporate resolutions, rules and regulations, and other policies and procedures … Continue reading
Best Practices for Board Meeting Minutes
A question came up during a recent online discussion about “best practices” for board meeting minutes. The answer to questions of what should (or should not) be included in minutes is more complicated than it seems. This article will give a broad answer, but I have to mention there are chapters in both my recent books, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition, on what to include (or not) in minutes, approving minutes, changing minutes after the fact, handling closed/executive session meeting minutes, as well as model minutes templates and skeletal minutes (writing minutes before … Continue reading
Can, or Should, My Community Association Prohibit “Group Homes”?
With the passage of federal and State laws protecting disabled individuals, we see a societal push away from institutionalized living arrangements and towards community based, group home settings. This firm is frequently asked how, or if, an association can prohibit these group living arrangements within their community. Sometimes residents are worried that the group home occupants will pose a safety risk; there are also concerns about parking and transient residents; and fundamentally, associations may question whether this type of group living arrangement is consistent with single family residential use. The purpose of this blog is to provide a broad overview … Continue reading
Court of Appeals Confirm Vagueness and Ambiguity in Zoning Ordinance Will be Viewed in Favor of Free Use of Property
This week the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Frazier v. Town of Blowing Rock, 2022-NCCOA-782, that confirms the views of the Courts in this State that vague terms or ambiguity in language, in this case relating to a local zoning ordinance, will be viewed in favor of the free use of an owner’s property. In the community and association world (HOA and Condominiums) we have seen this line of decisions from the courts before as they deem vague restrictions or covenants in association governing documents as void and unenforceable for vagueness. This holds true for local … Continue reading
HOA/Condo Rental Restrictions, Corporate Owners & Institutional Investors
Requests for amendments to declarations tend to go in waves. Twenty years ago many associations were concerned about certain categories of sex offenders living in their communities. For several years now, the declaration amendment our firm most often gets asked about has to do with rental restrictions. Such questions arise out of concern that too many rentals or certain types of rentals will impact the “character” of neighborhoods. As a result, associations regularly approach our firm for advice on rental bans, rental caps, or restrictions on short-term/transient rentals like Airbnb or VRBO. (See Top Declaration Amendments for an HOA or … Continue reading
Conflicts of Interests: What Community Association Directors Should Know
Are you a director on your community association executive board? If so, you may be wondering about conflicts of interest. When do you as a board member have a conflict of interest? First, what is a conflict of interest? The North Carolina Non-profit Act defines a conflict of interest transaction as “a transaction with the corporation in which a director of the corporation has a direct or indirect interest.” A direct or indirect interest means that you have some personal interest in the transaction beyond your interest as a member of the Association. Basically, the question is will you (or … Continue reading
New Announcement by HUD Means More Options for Flood Insurance
All community association boards want to be good stewards of the funds collected from their homeowners. Sometimes, when finances are tight, a board has to face hard choices about how to reduce costs. That might mean reducing services or even deferring needed maintenance for a period of time where that maintenance is not essential to safety or structural integrity. As with all contracts, boards want to find the insurance that best suits their community and offers the best protection—at the best price. For those townhome and condo communities located in a flood zone, the question often arises whether they must … Continue reading
Yes, Owners of a Restricted Lot Can Be Fined for THEIR TENANT’S Violations of Covenants!
With the appreciating residential real estate market, rental homes are becoming an increasingly common feature in residential neighborhoods subject to restrictive covenants. Restrictive covenants will typically have a few main types of provisions that lot owners opt into when purchasing their restricted lots—architectural standards, obligations to pay assessments to a homeowners’ association, provisions outlining the common area/amenities- but also some regulations that relate to conduct of individuals who reside on a lot. Sometimes the practice of leasing will even be prohibited or limited in the restrictive covenants of a community, or even provide that the HOA can screen prospective tenants. … Continue reading
Hurricane Ian Victim’s Tax Relief Deadline Extended for NC and SC Residents
The Internal Revenue Service has recently announced additional relief for Hurricane Ian victims across North Carolina and South Carolina. The tax relief postpones several tax filing and payment deadlines in North and South Carolina, as outlined below: Individuals and businesses located anywhere in the Carolinas will now have until February 15, 2023 to file returns, provided they had a valid extension to file their 2021 return. Individuals and businesses will have until February 15, 2022 to pay taxes that were originally due on September 25, 2022 in South Carolina and September 28, 2022 in North Carolina (the full list of … Continue reading
What Are An Association’s Responsibilities For Ensuring An Owner’s Safety?
There is often a breakdown between what homeowners within a community and the board of an association believe are the responsibilities of the association. Our association clients experience this with a myriad of issues, and one area of particular importance is that of homeowner safety. For associations hoping to understand what their responsibilities are in ensuring a homeowner’s safety and wellbeing, a great place to start is the governing documents. The governing documents will explain an association’s responsibilities in regard to the safety of homeowners, and their additional responsibilities in general. An association should take reasonable action to protect those … Continue reading
Obligation to Pay HOA Dues Survives Even the Strangest Circumstances
As community association attorneys, we hear all sorts of reasons from homeowners to explain why they haven’t paid their assessments. These usually include legitimate explanations such as illnesses like COVID, job loss, or other hardships. Some homeowners are more creative. One owner recently told our office that the presence of “entities” in the home was a reason for non-payment. In a recent case out of Kentucky, William and Theresa Thompson told their homeowners association they shouldn’t have to pay assessments on two lots they owned because the lots weren’t there anymore. Although existing as two separate lots, they were treated … Continue reading